Is It Time to Amend Your Will?
You’ve made a wise decision by executing a will as a component of your estate plan, but it’s a mistake to think that this completes the process. Your circumstances change over the years, and different life events may impact the testamentary arrangement you intended at the time you prepared your will. If you don’t keep you will up to date, it may not reflect your wishes. A Virginia estate planning attorney can tell you whether to execute a codicil, which is the term used for an amendment to your will.
Life Events Appropriate for Amending Your Will
When you experience life-changing events or make decisions that have a major impact on your life, you should consider a codicil. Examples include:
- Getting Married: Both you and your new spouse should execute codicils after the wedding. Virginia state law will award your entire estate to your spouse when you die, if you have no children; however, if you want to alter that plan, you need to establish such in your codicil. Plus, if your original will bequests an item to some other person and you want your spouse to have it upon your death, you’ll need to make the change.
- Getting Divorced: If you divorce after designating your spouse as beneficiary under your will, your ex-spouse is treated as having died before you under Virginia law. Therefore, nothing will pass to him or her. However, if you’ve named any members of your former spouse’s family as a beneficiary, that arrangement remains intact. Executing a codicil should be a top priority in such a case if you don’t want those individuals to receive part of your estate.
- Children: If you bear additional children after executing your will and designating certain beneficiaries, Virginia law has special provisions that apply. Any child born after you create a will is entitled to claim the share he or she would if you died without a will. Therefore, you might consider executing a codicil to change this arrangement if it doesn’t represent your wishes.
- New Assets: You’ll likely acquire new real and personal property after you execute your will, so you could prepare a codicil if you intend to specifically bequeath it.
Legal Requirements for Executing a Will Codicil
A codicil is generally used to revoke or add certain provisions to your will, so it must be executed in the same way as a will in order to be valid under Virginia law. Therefore, the codicil must be in writing and signed by you as testator; plus, two competent, disinterested individuals must need to witness the signing of the codicil.
Consult with Virginia Estate Planning Attorneys
Executing your will is a great start with estate planning, but it’s important to keep the provisions updated to ensure it properly reflects your wishes. The Virginia estate planning attorneys at Shannon & Bedois, P.C. can help you decide whether a codicil is appropriate, and can assist with the legal requirements for making sure it’s effective. Please contact online or call our office at (757) 228-5529 to discuss your options.